Genesis13 mins 21K 13 mins 21K
The boat crashed on the beach.
Of the twenty-five people that had started the journey, only five managed to make it alive. Battered by the raging storm for thirty-two days, hunger eating them from the inside, thirst bleeding on their lips, they were cadaverous. Panting they lay on the beach in disbelief at being alive.
The Leader of the doomed expedition looked around to where nature’s fury had thrown them. Their past was dead, their world ended so there was no going back. He needed to look forward now. The island was big, over twenty square miles at least and covered with trees, climbable hillocks, dense foliage and teeming with wildlife. It seemed colorful and alive after the deathly dark-blue of the raging seas. It chittered and crackled. The wind rustling the trees as the birds cawed and animals screeched on their daily hunt for food. Nature’s beauty, untouched and untamed scared them as much as the raging storm had.
The Leader looked around for survivors. There was his trusted Follower, a Woman and two Children. The Children were barely twelve years old, a boy and a girl. The Leader then looked at the heavens thanking the stars for sparing their lives. They would live a little longer on this uninhibited island.
He was wrong. Nature inhabited the island. The island’s Spirit had woken up the moment the boat had crashed on the beach. It was the nature’s soul. It was alive, conscious and aware.
Since the beginning of time, the Spirit has been part of the island. It was present in every tree, every animal and everything alive. It preserved the balance of life on the island. It was a predator one day and a prey next. It ate and was eaten every day.
It had never seen humans till their boat crashed on the beach. They intrigued the Spirit with their higher intelligence and a power of reasoning that the Spirit sensed in them. The Spirit watched them closely as they gathered themselves on the beach. It did not know what to do with them yet and because they fascinated him, the Spirit was content to let them be for now as it watched them.
The Leader sensed danger and that something on the island watched them but he did not know what. The Woman also felt uncomfortable and had told him of the itch between her shoulder blades at her back and repeated feeling of eyes on them.
The Follower wanted to go up the beach into the forest for food but the Leader stopped him. He told them to stay on the beach and stay away from the Jungle. The Leader then slowly walked up the beach towards the jungle with his hands outstretched and his palms open in a universal pose of a supplicant.
He stood on the edge of the beach waiting for someone or something to appear.
Nothing did. Then he picked up his foot to step on the grass beyond the beach’s boundary and stopped before his foot landed. The noise of the jungle had changed suddenly. Now it was louder and more threatening.
The Leader understood. Whatever watched them wanted them contained on the beach for the moment. He slowly retreated his foot and walked back slowly. This changed things. The Leader went back and told them all what he had seen. They sat in a circle discussing who or what watched them. The Children were quiet and looked at the adults with fearful eyes. They had not known one another in their previous life being from different families. Only the Follower who had known the Leader from before.
Their eyes would go to the jungle every few minutes now that they were aware of a presence watching them. They waited.
The Spirit continued to observe them with an unhealthy interest. After an hour the Spirit searched for one of its creatures and guided it to the edge of the jungle towards the beach. It was curious to what they would make of it. It was a bear. A very large fearsome bear. It stepped out of the jungle onto the beach and roared.
The Woman screamed and the children huddled behind the men, fearful and scared. The Spirit followed closely and smiled. Now it knew that they were prey to the Spirit’s biggest predator.
Next the Spirit sent out a pig.
The men on the beach chased the pig and quickly caught it. In an hour they had killed the pig, gutted it and started to eat the meat between them. The Spirit watched. It was trying to figure out where these humans fit in the endless cycle of nature, the predator or the prey.
The humans, filled with food, quickly searched for leaves and made a makeshift arrangement where they could sleep. Night fell and the Spirit watched as they lay down to sleep. After a few hours the Leader awoke. Then he silently made his way up to where the Woman was sleeping and shook her silently awake.
They looked at each other silently.
The Spirit watched with interest.
Then the Leader and the Woman started to have sex.
The Spirit viewed silently.
So did the Follower. He watched the Leader and the Woman having sex and felt pangs of jealousy. The Woman attracted him. The Spirit noted the Follower’s interest and felt the anger. The anger confused the Spirit as monogamy was not a concept the Spirit understood.
The Children watched the sex as well. The Girl had nudged the Boy awake. The act fascinated them. They were careful to not let the adults know they were watching.
The Spirit was restless. It did not know what to do. It sent out pigs in the morning and then evening so the humans could eat while it planned the next move. The Spirit did not understand how these humans fit into its world and was debating if he should accept them, allow them on to the island or destroy them. Change was hard for it to accept and the reason the humans were alive was because it found them intriguing and amusing.
Their awareness made them dangerous. Will they turn on me or try to destroy me? Thought the Spirit.
It was important to know them before deciding their fate.
It smiled. It was important to test them.
So the Spirit stopped sending them the pigs. The Leader stood at the edge of the boundary waiting for the pig to arrive. It usually came like clockwork. This time there was no pig. He debated going outside the boundary to check for the pig but the moment he lifted his leg, the jungle noises changed again and this time were even louder and more forbidding.
The Leader went back to tell them that their daily supply of food would not be coming. They sat together wondering what to do. They could fish but did not know how to do so. There was nothing to forage on the beach and the jungle was clearly off-limits. By evening the hunger had made them irritable. The Woman was sulking and the Follower had started to get angry with everyone.
The Leader tried to keep them calm.
The Follower got up purposefully as he remembered something. He searched the beach alone trying to find it. It was a sharp stone, like a knife. He picked it up in his hands and started to find a stick to attach it on. He would kill a fish for food. The Spirit watched. The Follower managed to kill a fish after three hours. He was stubborn and did not give up till he had a few fishes. He walked back to humans who were still huddled together getting weaker all the time and they looked at him with delight. He gave the Children the first fish so they could eat.
He dangled the other fish in front of the Leader and the Woman.
The Woman looked at the fish but the Leader looked at the Follower. Understanding passed between them. The Leader nodded, accepted the fish and all of them ate. That night the Follower got up and had sex with the Woman. They all watched, the Leader now sullen and angry the balance of power had shifted, the Children, fascinated as well and the Spirit. A few days later they grew tired of eating fish every day. They wanted to eat something else and fondly remembered the pigs. It was midday when the Woman while walking the boundary alone saw the pig. Her face lit up with delight and excited she quickly ran to catch it and crossed the boundary into the jungle. She never came out. They were frantic, the Leader, Follower and the Children. They stood hopping on the boundary screaming but to no avail.
Neither the Woman nor the pig came out of the jungle. The men were distraught and then angry. The follower spoke to the leader and suggested that they go into the jungle to rescue the woman. The follower, drunk on power with the sharp stone wanted to destroy whoever had taken his woman. Let’s kill whoever is out there and get the omen back he said to the Leader. Much as the Leader tried to soothe him, the follower had made up his mind. The children would go with them as they entered the jungle in search of the enemy that had taken their woman. There was no point in leaving the children on the beach and they could help in the search.
They prepared. They gathered stones and any other sharp objects that could find. Then they stood on the boundary and gathered their courage to enter the jungle. The Spirit watched with glee. It had killed the Woman and now wanted to see what the other humans would do. The humans breached the boundary and entered the jungle. The sound of the jungle changed again and scared the Children who held hands tightly, following the men.
The monkeys attacked them immediately. The men fought the monkeys and tried their best to stay away from their clawed swipes. The Follower’s spear helped and the monkeys fled as stones pelted them as well, their screeches echoing in the forest. The men checked if the Children were fine and blundered on. The Leader now created his own spear from a sharp stone he had found. Into the jungle, they went wary of the wildlife screaming all around them hostile and angry.
The birds attacked next. They came out of the trees, their sharp beaks and claws raked the men on their faces. Again the spear and stones helped. The Leader’s back bled because of the deep scratches by the birds and the monkeys. The Follower, too, hurt but was in a better shape than the Leader. Then just as they were preparing for the next attack, a sudden silence filled the jungle.
The silence was so loud that it startled them and the Children. It seems the jungle now held its breath. Then the roar of the bear split the night.
It attacked them suddenly and caught the Follower’s legs in its jaws. The Leader stabbed it multiple times and tried to gauge out its eyes. The Follower too tried to stab the bear but its vice like grip tightened and he heard a bone snap in his leg. The Children pushed themselves to the ground unable to do anything as they saw the men fight the bear. The screams and the roars froze them as they saw the bear swat the Follower with its paws and bite the Leader’s leg.
The Leader died first as the bear broke his leg and tore out his throat with its claws. The Follower died next, his neck broken.
The bear then turned to the Children and roared. The Children stood rooted to the spot holding each other tightly waiting for death. Then the bear sniffed the air, roared once more and slowly ambled away.
The Boy felt scared but the bear had gone away. He enjoyed the Girl was clinging to him. It excited him in strange, uncertain ways even when death was staring them in the face. He picked up the Follower’s spear that had fallen down in the fight, held the Girl’s hand and walked deeper into the jungle. The Spirit had let them live on a whim. The cubs would not be too much of a danger so he let them come towards its sanctum in the centre of the island.
The clearing appeared suddenly in the middle of the forest startling the Boy. It was a circular clearing with a small pond on one side, a large tree in the centre with soft grass matting the floor. The bear slept beside the pond snoring.
The Boy and the Girl walked up the tree. It was an apple tree with a huge trunk and red ripe apples hung within plucking distance. The Girl started to pluck the closest apple, hunger still warring in her with the fear. The Boy stopped her hand before she could touch the apple, startling her. He looked at her silently pleading and she sensed his fear as they watched the tree again. The awareness that was Spirit saw them tired, hungry and broken with the struggle. If the Girl had plucked the apple, it would have killed them. Perhaps, smiled the Spirit, there is hope for them yet.
Nature needed a balance and it had killed the Men and the Woman as they did not fit into the balance of nature, the Spirit’s idea of the predator and the prey. Maybe the Children could.
The Spirit revealed itself to them then. It was an awareness they sensed around them and it did not have a physical form. The Spirit showed them what it truly was, the nature’s soul. It also showed them how it had created the island and all the plants, animals within it.
It was the island’s creator and its inner sanctum was the apple tree.
The Boy and the Girl were in awe of the Spirit. They bowed down before it, offering apologies and prayers to it. They begged forgiveness but the Spirit did not understand forgiveness.
Yet it let them live. Slowly they became a part of the island, living within it, sharing from it and giving to it. The Spirit was content as the balance restored. Overtime, the Boy and the Girl became his favorites. Taking advantage of his love they sometimes pushed the balance out of the nature but he smiled and let them. The Spirit could restore whatever they managed to disturb and they gave him such joy and contentment.
One day though the Girl walked up to it crying and looking forlorn. The Spirit was about to ask the problem when he sensed the Boy stealthily approaching the apple tree. Before the Spirit could react, the Boy started to chop the tree with the sharp axe he had created. The loud thwack of the axe drove the Spirit to its metaphorical knees. While he turned his attention to the Boy cutting his stem, the Girl leapt up and plucked a bunch of apples hurting him further. The Spirit screamed, calling the animals for help but they were faraway. The Boy and the Girl had planned this assault well. The bear was hibernating because the Spirit trusted the Boy and the Girl now.
The Boy cut the tree as the Girl started to eat the apples. Naughty wickedness filled their faces marked with malevolent hate and loathing. The Spirit kept screaming, calling the monkeys, birds to itself and losing its grip on the animals. Slowly it faded into nothingness. Till it was no more. The Boy looked at the Girl who was still gorging on the apples. She looked ugly as she messily ate the apple. The Boy looked at her adoringly.
The Spirit had to die so they could be free and they had not forgotten the past, the men, the Woman and the animal attacks that killed them. The Boy walked up to the Girl. They looked at each other in wickedness and malice.
Then they had violent sex. And the human race was born again.